Luckily, my mother does not read this blog so I can add my fish tale to Wendy’s aquarium misery. Plus, it’s been two years and we’ve managed to recover nicely.
Number One Son really, really, really, really wanted a pet fish.
I said, “But honey, you know you are only ten-years-old and won’t take care of it and the poor little fishy will die of starvation.”
“No way, Mom!! I’ll feed it and change its water and play with it and everything.”
“If I let you have a fish, you must realize that I don’t want it, and its life will be in your hands, got that?”
After he pledged allegiance to the fish, we went to Wal-mart. Price of fish? 10 cents. Price of bowl, rocks, food, fish net, special chemistry set to keep the bowl from rotting, exotic housing units and plastic trees and kelp in unnatural neon colors? $89.50.
Day one was glorious: Son diligently set up bowl, named fish Alice, fed Alice 3 squares, checked chemical balance, dragged family and friends in to admire how clever Alice was whenever she swam through neon cave and, before bed that night, told Alice bedtime story.
Day two: Son invited to sleepover at neighbor’s house. Forgot Alice existed.
Day five: Alice failing.
Day eight: Alice, near death, discovered by eldest teenage daughter. “Mom, I’m going to take over Alice’s health care. Brother is going to be my
A shame-faced brother agreed to the arrangement and within days, Alice was her spunky old self. Daughter taught brother that the best way to clean Alice’s bowl was to transfer Alice to a salad bowl and run her regular stuff through the dishwasher to sterilize it from time to time.
Unfortunately, daughter and son neglected to tell Grandma their bowl cleaning method. And—because my mother is one of those people who cannot stop cleaning for 5 minutes—when she came over for dinner, Alice was inadvertently tossed into the garbage disposal and whirled into the great beyond as my mother hummed Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
We all stared at each other in horror, as Alice had become a rather cherished member of the family. However, we also knew that Grandma would never forgive herself and would inundate us with replacement fish for the rest of our lives and so, choked back the tears. Needless to say, dinner was a tad subdued that night. Now and then, a family member would pause at the disposal and murmur their respects down the drain.
Wendy, hurry. Invite my mother over for dinner next time you clean Bluestar’s bowl. Grandma, without fail, will leap up from the dinner table and begin tackling the dishes. Rest in peace, Bluestar.